Tomato & garlic couscous

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This is another fantastic mid-week meal that I regularly serve up. It’s jam-packed with cherry tomatoes, more garlic than you can shake a stick at and is very quick and easy to put together. The tomatoes and oil render the couscous deliciously moist and moreish.

You can play around with it as much as your imagination allows, adding whatever is in season and delicious at the time. On this occasion I fancied up the couscous with loads of herbs, rocket and asparagus to make a substantial vegetarian meal. Another time I served the couscous topped with panfried haloumi and portabello mushrooms (omit the feta if you go with this option). It would also go down very well served with fresh fish such as gurnard or tarakihi.

You might think I’m mad to put this much garlic into one dish but the cloves are roasted along with the tomatoes in lots of olive oil so they soften and mellow beautifully during cooking.

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I paid through the nose for some out-of-season asparagus to top this dish off, something I wouldn’t usually do. We are on the cusp of winter though and I thought I needed one last fix before the long, arduous wait for my next taste.

Just as an aside, I gave this to my daughter with the garlic and tomato skins picked out and she wolfed it down…another one to add to the fusspot success list. Such as it is.

TOMATO & GARLIC COUSCOUS

INGREDIENTS (serves 2-3 as a main or 4 as a side)
5 tbsp olive oil
12 cherry tomatoes
10-12 cloves garlic – peeled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g feta – crumbled into large chunks
1 cup couscous

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS (for the substantial vegetarian meal)
Large handful roughly chopped fresh herbs – I used mint, basil and flat-leaf parsley
50g rocket leaves
Rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
Bunch asparagus spears – stems trimmed and peeled

METHOD
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Put the olive oil, cherry tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves into a medium-sized oven dish. Season well with salt and pepper and roast uncovered for 15 minutes until the tomatoes have started to collapse.

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3. Remove from the oven and add the couscous to the dish, sprinkling it as evenly as possible over the tomatoes and garlic.

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4. Add one cup of water to the dish and then scatter the feta over the top.

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5. Cover tightly with tinfoil and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before you remove the foil.

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6. Fluff up with a fork and it is ready to serve at its most basic level (ie: topped with a panfriend fillet of fish).

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7. To make the substantial vegetarian salad main, transfer the couscous to a large bowl and allow it to cool before adding the remaining ingredients. I served this salad topped with charred asparagus and a wedge of lemon.

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